“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort…” 2 Corinithians 1:3 (KJV)
Y2K. Remember that phrase? Remember the wide-spread panic across our nation and our world concerning the numbers changing from the 1900’s to 2000 on January 1, 2000? Everyone was filled with alarm wondering if all of the preparations to keep things running smoothly would really pay off. I remember the bank where Kevin and I were employed being so concerned and going to great lengths to ensure trouble-free operations.
That night was a troubled time, and I imagine most people can remember where they were and what they were doing when the clock struck midnight. It turned out that all worry was in vain, life went on, and all was well. December 31, 1999 had another strong and also very sad significance for me. I remember it quite well.
We still lived in
, and our neighbors across the street had an annual New Year's Eve tradition of tying several firecrackers together and stringing them down the middle of our road. Then at midnight, they would light them, causing them to go off and make a steady sound of popping for several minutes. Mom and Dad came to spend the night with us that New Year’s Eve, and I so clearly remember standing inside our front door, with Dad at my side listening to the firecrackers….cheering with our neighbors at midnight. I remember being filled with a sense of peace to know I was with the ones I loved most, and all of us were okay. It turned out, that was the last New Years I ever got to welcome in with my Dad. Florida
Life drastically changed that following year. Dad’s health continued to decline at a rapid speed, and I went through the most bittersweet time of my life. I found out in April that I was expecting a baby after many long years of battling infertility, and I clearly remember the day Kevin and I went to the mid-wife’s office to hear little Zachary’s heart beat for the very first time. We returned home on top of the world, anxious to call Mom and Dad and tell them all about it. When Mom answered the phone, I knew right away that something was drastically wrong. She shakily told me that the doctor had told Dad the very same day that he would more than likely need to have both legs amputated in the near future. His long-term battle with diabetes had destroyed the nerves in both legs, and the blood flow was very weak. Whew! Talk about going from the highest high to the lowest low in a matter of seconds!
It was like this for the next several weeks. One minute I was on cloud nine thinking about the future, anxious for Zachary to arrive. The next minute, I was filled with dread and the deep-down, gnawing fear that Dad may not live until Zachary’s arrival date in December. My emotions were on what seemed like a perpetual roller-coaster.
At the end of May, Dad began suffering from severe chest pains and Mom took him to the ER. He never came back home. He suffered and fought for life until June 5, 2000, when God sent an angel to take him...not back to his earthly home, but to his eternal resting place. We were all there with him when he made his crossing. Kevin was standing by his bed, holding his hand. I stood nearby and watched the monitor at the head of his bed. I felt like my heart was wrenched from my chest as I watched his heart rate flat-line. He was gone. He would never see his one and only biological grandchild. They would never play together. He would never get to hold him. There would be none of that. I remember walking down the long, unfeeling, cold corridor of the hospital hallway, feeling like there was absolutely no way I could pick up the pieces and go on. Y2K did nothing to damage the world around me; Dad was gone, and my whole world had fallen apart.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. He had been sick for so many years, and I just assumed he would come back home again and all would return to his sense of “normal” in a few days…like all the times before. This time, we left there without him, and he was never coming home.
I’ll be honest. I fought some pretty hard, angry battles with God after that. Why on earth couldn’t Dad have at least lived to SEE Zachary? Why did he have to die NOW, so close to meeting our baby? Why? Why? Why? I was fighting bitterness, unable to really cherish the moments and the wonders of being with child after waiting so long. On top of all of that, I was very sick….all the way to the end of my pregnancy. There were many scares along the way, due to my long-standing health issues, and later, when it was all over, and Zachary was born healthy and perfectly safe, the midwives told me how worried they had been concerning a miscarriage. Unbeknownst to me, my progesterone levels had been dangerously low, and looking back, I could see God’s protective hand all over little Zach. Even when I didn’t realize the danger I was in of losing him, God did. And He took care of both of us all the way through. Even when I was questioning Him, even when I felt like He was dealing cruelly and unfairly with me, God’s love for me remained, and He took special, personal care of our unborn child. He knew the pain of losing Dad and a miscarriage would have been more than my hurting heart could have withstood. So, He took Dad, and he gave a precious baby boy to us six months later. “…the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” Job 1:21 (KJV)
I want to present a special New Year’s Eve challenge to you for this year. Try to be with the ones you love the most. Even if they get on your nerves, even if you want to be alone, even if it takes extra effort….make that effort. Stand next to them and always be reminded that one day, you will stand next to them for the very last time. As the clock strikes midnight to usher in a new year, tell the ones dearest to you that you love them. Hug them a little tighter, speak in a kinder tone, say what needs to be said. I’ll never be able to spend another New Year's Eve with Dad. Never hear his contagious laughter again. Never feel my heart fill up with joy as I watch him and Zachary play. I’m glad we shared those moments together on the eve of the new year 2000. I’m glad for every moment we shared together. I miss him and always will. This New Years, think of who you would miss the most if they were gone from your life forever. Then cherish them a little bit more…not only at New Year’s, but every day for the rest of your lives together. For, sadly, as 2011 is coming to a close, one day life will, too.